Gender Differences in Survival in Advanced Heart Failure: Insights From the FIRST Study


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Abstract

BackgroundPrevious natural history studies in broad populations of heart failure patients have associated female gender with improved survival, particularly in patients with a nonischemic etiology of ventricular dysfunction. This study investigates whether a similar survival advantage for women would be evident among patients with advanced heart failure.Methods and Results-The study analysis is based on the Flolan International Randomized Survival Trial (FIRST) study which enrolled 471 patients (359 men and 112 women) who had evidence of end-stage heart failure with marked symptoms (60% NYHA class IV) and severe left ventricular dysfunction (left ventricular ejection fraction 18 +/- 4.9%). A Cox proportional-hazards model, adjusted for age, gender, 6-minute walk, dobutamine use at randomization, mean pulmonary artery blood pressure, and treatment assignment, showed a significant association between female gender and better survival (relative risk of death for men versus women was 2.18, 95% CI 1.39 to 3.41; P<0.001). Although formal interaction testing was negative (P=0.275), among patients with a nonischemic etiology of heart failure, the relative risk of death for men versus women was 3.08 (95% CI 1.56 to 6.09, P=0.001), whereas among those with ischemic heart disease, the relative risk of death for men versus women was 1.64 (95% CI 0.87 to 3.09, P=0.127).ConclusionsWomen with advanced heart failure appear to have better survival than men. Subgroup analysis suggests this finding is strongest among patients with a nonischemic etiology of heart failure. (Circulation. 1999;99:1816-1821.)

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